The last article talked about the benefits of hiking, and how it is good training for a crisis. The health benefits alone are well worth the effort, not to mention the survival skills you will pick up as you get out in the wild.
Your senses will get a good exercise, as well, because you do have to pay attention to detail when out on the trail.
Is that cloud formation a storm that may be happening miles away and yet could cause flash flooding where I am? What animal made those fresh tracks are they from an animal in which I need to worry? What do those claw marks high up on a tree mean?
Use the technology available to research the area in which you plan to hike or camp. You may not have cell service to Google for information once you are out along the trail. You will not be able to look up tracks in the mud, or identify plants if you don’t have cell service. What poisonous snakes inhabit the area, are there water sources and prominent landmarks that can be used for navigation. Researching before you leave can save your life if you know what questions to ask.
Know the terrain by studying a topographical map. If the trail is marked stay on it, chasing after butterflies can cause you to become lost. How many times have you heard a hiker that became lost say they just stepped off the trail for a nature call and then couldn’t find the trail again?
Regardless of how much water you are carrying always look for more and when you find a source know how to get back to the source by mapping it from your next location.
Bear attacks make headlines, and the only reason they do is because they are so rare. Bear attacks make a splash, but they can be deadly.
Keep your camp clean, because leaving food and waste out is a good way of getting a visit. Forget pictures, the once in a lifetime selfie with a bear may be the last thing you do in your lifetime.
Carry bear spray, and a firearm if you feel the need, but keep in mind the local laws and if in a national park know the federal regulations. A .357 or .44 magnum or even a .500 S&W are big enough if you are trained and fast enough to use a large caliber.
Large calibers require considerable training especially to develop the hand and wrist strength needed. Bear spray can be used quickly unless you are a novice and have it packed away. Bear spray should literally be in your hand when in bear country. Don’t know whether its bear country or not? Stay home if you can’t find out.
Avoidance is the best protection. If you get off the trail, where you put your feet is important. Snakes typically will avoid human contact but if you step on one or if you reach down to pick up something, you could be bitten. Pay attention to where you are walking and if you see a snake avoid it, do not try to pick it up or bash its head in with a stick. This is how people get bitten. Usually they will move off, and if they don’t you need to move off.
Falling limbs can kill you whether it’s windy or not, but if it is windy this may be a good time to seek cover from falling limbs. Certainly, do not camp for the night where there is any chance of a limb falling on you.
Find a spot that is high and dry to avoid flash floods or ground runoff off from heavy rains, so choose your spot carefully for overnight.
Do not hike after dark unless it is an emergency and only after carefully studying your topographical map for ravines and other dangerous terrain features. Know before it gets dark where the dangers may be.
Be alert and do not be afraid to hunker down for a few hours, the trail will still be there after your rest. Hiking when sleepy or sick is dangerous.
Much More to Come